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Falcons sign Edwards

July 29th, 2011 1 comment
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Ray Edwards

FOX Sports Jay Glazer tweets that the Falcons have agreed to a five-year deal with Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards. Terms of the deal have to be disclosed. Conflicting reports over the past several weeks surrounded whether the Falcons were interested in signing Edwards. They had been linked to him since the draft, but in recent weeks, NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora and the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter cited league sources that indicated the Falcons interest had cooled on Edwards. It was also reportedthat the Falcons were keen on signing free agents Charles Johnson and Jason Babin, but likely the Falcons attention turned to Edwards when they quickly were snatched up after free agency commenced Tuesday.

Edwards played left defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, and likely will be asked to do the same, at least initially in Atlanta. He’ll likely replace Kroy Biermann in the starting lineup. The team cut one left end this morning by releasing Jamaal Anderson. It’s possible that Anderson could return to the team later at a cheaper price, although Edwards signing potentially makes that move moot.

Edwards, 26, has started for the Vikings the past four seasons. He is coming off a pair of seasons with 8 and 8.5 sacks, respectively, after 2 five sack seasons.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets the terms of the deal: five-years, $30 million, with $11 million guaranteed.

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Falcons cut Anderson and Jenkins

July 29th, 2011 Comments off
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Jamaal Anderson

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reportsthat the Falcons have parted ways with two former first round picks: wide receiver Michael Jenkins and defensive end Jamaal Anderson.

Jenkins was the team’s top pick in the 2004 draft and started 5 of the 7 years he was a Falcon, combining to catch 276 passes and 20 touchdowns. Jenkins, widely considered a disappointment due to the fact that he never had a game where he had 100 or more receiving yards had been a serviceable starter for the team since Mike Smith took over in 2008.

Anderson was the top pick in 2007, coming to the team with big expectations as a replacement for long-time Falcons end Patrick Kerney. But Anderson never lived up to that potential, and struggled to produce as a pass rusher. In recent seasons, he started to find a niche as a role player and run defender. Anderson started the first three seasons he was a Falcon, but combined for only 2.5 sacks. This past year, as a role player, he recorded 2 sacks, despite only starting 3 games.

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Falcons re-sign Clabo and Bryant

July 28th, 2011 Comments off
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Tyson Clabo

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the Falcons have come to terms with free agent offensive tackle Tyson Clabo. Pat Yasinskas of ESPN also reportsthat the team has re-signed fellow free agent kicker Matt Bryant as well.

Negotiations with Clabo had been ongoing since teams were allowed to begin to contact free agents on Tuesday. Clabo had been pursued by the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks according to reports, with talks with Buffalo picking up on Wednesday after the Seahawks signed free agent Robert Gallery.

Terms of the deal with either party were undisclosed. It is likely the Falcons reached a long-term deal with Clabo, while settling for a short-term deal with the 36-year old Bryant. Bryant’s re-signing likely ends any possibility that punter Michael Koenen returns to the team. Sixth round pick Matt Bosher, who signed earlier today, pulled double duty as a kicker and punter while at the University of Miami will likely focus solely on punting with Bryant in the fold.

Bryant was perfect on 13 tries in the Georgia Dome last year, and made three game-winning field goals. The Falcons first picked up Bryant late in the 2009 season after struggles with Jason Elam.

UPDATE: NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora reports that Clabo signed a five-year deal worth $25 million, including $11.5 million guaranteed. The deal can max out at $27 million.

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Falcons sign Julio and Quizz

July 28th, 2011 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons have signed both of their remaining draft picks, inking deals with first round wide receiver Julio Jones and fifth round running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The Falcons came to terms with their other four draft picks earlier today. Although terms of their deals have yet to be disclosed, both players signed four-year deals. Because Jones is a first round pick, the team has an option to add a fifth year in 2015, which will be equal to the average of the top ten salaries for wide receivers. That figure was $8.65 million based of 2010 salaries.

UPDATE: Zach Klein of WSB-TV reports that Jones signed a four-year deal worth $16.2 million, all of which is guaranteed.

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Falcons sign Dent

July 28th, 2011 Comments off
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LB Akeem Dent

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC tweeted that the Falcons have agreed to terms on a four-year deal with linebacker Akeem Dent, the team’s third round pick of this past year’s draft class. Earlier today, the Falcons came to terms with three of their other picks. It leaves only top pick Julio Jones and fifth rounder Jacquizz Rodgers as the team’s only unsigned rookies.

A deal for both unsigned rookies is likely imminent given that several of the players around where they were picked have signed and the slotting system that tends to surround draft pick signings. Jones was taken sixth overall, and this past year’s seventh overall choice, San Francisco 49er linebacker Aldon Smith has already agreed to a four-year, $14.4 million deal. Also the fourth overall choice, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green has also signed a four-year, $19.7 million deal.

Rodgers was the 145th overall pick in the draft, and picks No. 146 through 151 have all signed contracts, as well as pick No. 143 (Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Thomas).

All rookies as part of the new labor agreement will receive four-year deals. Teams will however have the option to add a fifth year to the deals of first round picks. Since Jones was a top-ten draft selection, his option will amount to the average of the ten most highly paid wide receivers in 2015.

UPDATE: Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that Dent agreed to a four-year deal worth $2.76 million, and included a signing bonus of slightly under $543,000.

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Falcons ink three draft picks

July 28th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons signed three of the draft picks today, with the team announcing that sixth round pick P Matt Bosher, and seventh round picks OG Andrew Jackson and DE Cliff Matthews all came to terms on four-year deals. The team also announced the addition of another undrafted free agent, USC punter Jacob Harfman.

Teams were allowed to start signing their own draft picks Tuesday under the new labor agreement. The Falcons have now inked half of their 2011 draft class, with top picks Julio Jones, Akeem Dent, and Jacquizz Rodgers remaining unsigned.

Bosher is expected to replace free agent Michael Koenen at the punter position. But will get competition from players like Harfman and journeyman Ken Parrish. Jackson adds needed depth on the interior of the Falcons offensive line, with both starters: Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl being free agents. Matthews should compete for a reserve spot on the defensive line, and the team hopes he can bolster their pass rush in the coming seasons.

Harfman (5-9/201) served as USC’s punter and kickoff specialist the past two seasons. In that span, he had 92 punts for an average of 40.4 yards with 29 placed inside the 20-yard line. He also had 9 stops on special teams. He had 143 kickoffs with 25 going for touchbacks in his two seasons with the Trojans. He attempted a 50-yard field goal as a junior, but missed. He came to USC as a transfer student from Mt. San Antonio JC, where he averaged 40 yards on 45 punts with 22 placed inside the 20. He also had 27 touchbacks as a kickoff specialist, and connected on 20 of 26 field goals, and 69 of 75 PAT attempts. As a freshman, he played at Urbana (OH) University, a NAIA school where he was 5 of 11 on field goals and 30 of 34 on PATs.

Peterson agrees to return to Falcons

July 28th, 2011 Comments off
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Mike Peterson

Mike Peterson tweeted this morning that he had agreed to terms with the Falcons. Terms of his new deal were undisclosed. The retention of Peterson was up in the air with the Falcons agreeing to a five-year deal with fellow free agent linebacker Stephen Nicholas on Wednesday, but it appears that the Falcons have kept both of their linebackers.

Peterson first joined the Falcons in 2009, and has served as a starter on the weakside the past two years. His production took a sharp decline from one year to the next, as he became a part-time player for the most part in 2010. His tackle totals went from 109 in 2009 to 57 in 2010. But despite the less playing time, Peterson still managed to have 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries, figures that matched or exceeded his totals in 2009 in those categories.

It will be interesting if the Falcons shuffle their depth chart with Nicholas locked up long-term, and relegate Peterson to a reserve role, or keep him as the starter but in a still limited role.

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Falcons add 22 undrafted free agents

July 27th, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons announced the signing of 22 undrafted free agents today. Sixteen of those names were known, as they were previously reported on our undrafted free agent tracker. Newly added however include fullback Thor Merrow (North Alabama), wide receiver P.J. Gore (Mars Hill), center Ryan McMahon (Florida State), cornerback Kamaal McIlwain (Newbury), and safety Suaesi Tuimaunei (Oregon State). Also note that Rhode Island linebacker Matt Hansen is listed by the team as a safety.

Merrow (6-0/252) is the son of former Falcons defensive lineman Jeff Merrow who played 9 seasons with the Falcons (1975-83). He began his collegiate career at West Virginia, where he played in 8 games asa  defensive lineman as a redshirt freshman, recording 9 tackles. After an injury-plagued sophomore year, where he only had 2 tackles in 3 games, he transferred to North Alabama. He moved to tight end, where he spent two seasons as a reserve, combining for 8 catches for 103 yards (12.9 avg) and 2 touchdowns. He also played some defense, recording 22 tackles, 1 for loss, and 2 pass breakups during his two-year stint. Merrow clocked a 4.92 40 time and did 25 bench reps at North Alabama’s spring pro day.

Gore (6-2/196) began his career at Mars Hill as a basketball player before playing football during his final year of eligibility. As a senior receiver, he led the team with 51 catches for 1086 (21.3 avg) and 9 touchdowns. In three seasons as a starting guard for Mars Hill, he averaged 14.3 points, 2.2 assistants, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.2 steals per game. He also shot 46.2% from the field, 66.3% from free throws, and 28.4% from the three-point arc. He had his best year as a junior where he led the team with 18.5 points per game, 2.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 steals per game. He also had career highs with 47.9% and 77.1% field goal and free throw shooting percentages, respectively. He recorded a 4.52 40 time at Coastal Carolina’s pro day in the spring.

McMahon (6-1/297) started 53 games at center during his career at Florida State, never missing a start in four seasons. McMahon earned all-conference honors throughout his career, and was a three-year candidate for the Rimington Award, given to the nation’s top center. At his pro day in the spring, he clocked a 5.14 40 time and did 31 bench reps of 225 pounds.

McIlwain (5-10/186) became the starter at cornerback midway through his sophomore year and held the job the rest of his career. During his two and a half years as a starter, he recorded 72 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 27 passes defended. He also blocked 2 kicks. He served as a return threat, returning 21 kickoffs for a 27.7 yard average during his career, and scored on a 80-yard run during his senior year. He recorded a 4.36 40 time at his pro day during the spring.

Tuimaunei (6-1/202) spent much of his career at Oregon State as a reserve until he earned the starting position as a senior. He had his best season, finishing second on the team with 85 tackles. He also added 5 tackles for loss, his first career interception, and 2 forced fumbles. The previous three years, he combined for 62 tackles. The Hawaii-native clocked a 4.43 40 time at his pro day this past spring.

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Falcons re-up with Nicholas

July 27th, 2011 Comments off
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Stephen Nicholas

Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets that the Falcons have reached an agreement with free agent linebacker Stephen Nicholas, agreeing to a five-year deal. As part of the new labor agreement, teams have been allowed to contact and negotiate with free agents since Tuesday, but transactions and agreements made during this time cannot become official until Friday evening, when players will be allowed to sign after 6 pm. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Nicholas was a free agent for the Falcons and has been a starter for the team the past two seasons. He began last season as the reserve strongside linebacker to Sean Weatherspoon, but due to a midseason injury to Weatherspoon took over the starting job. He wound up starting 11 games and had 72 tackles. He was expecting to test the market for the first time, with rumors linking him to Detroit and New York with the Giants, but ultimately decided that it was best staying in Atlanta.

Nicholas decision to stay may also impact whether the Falcons try to bring back Mike Peterson, who is also a free agent. It would seem likely with this long-term commitment to Nicholas, that he will likely man the strongside position, allowing Weatherspoon to move to his more natural weakside position, the same position that Peterson has started at the past two seasons.

UPDATE: Zach Klein of WSB-TV Atlanta cites NFL sources that indicate Nicholas deal is worth $17.5 million over five years.

Devine opts not to sign with Falcons

July 26th, 2011 2 comments

Contrary to earlier reports, West Virginia running back Noel Devine told the Fort Myers News-Press that he has not signed with the Atlanta Falcons and does not intend to do in the future. It was first reported last night that Devine had agreed to terms with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent, but reports surfaced earlier today that he had yet to make a decision on where his NFL future lay.

UPDATE: Devine agreed to a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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